Against The Clocks drove an hour from Rockville to take part in this year's Battle Royale, and when they first took the stage at Birdy's in week three they were the new band in town, not really knowing what to expect from the crowd. Playing at the time seemingly as two bands for the price of one, with lead singers Logan Lake and Landry Moore fronting the band in opposing fashion, the band surprised many in the crowd by dominating many of the more experienced bands on the bill.
What impressed initially was that it was so difficult to pin these five musicians down sonically. Moore's songs, like the anthemic “Top Floor,” relied on staccato, emotional vocals and anthemic choruses, while Lake's persona lent itself equally well to Kings of Leon and Jackson Browne comparisons as he calmly led from behind his bank of keyboards. Both vibes lent themselves to a solid stadium rock sound, but each song meant wondering which side of the band's sonic coin would eventually win out.
“We learned a lot from those shows, especially since we were still just gelling as a band,” says Jordan Lake, the band's lead guitarist. “A lot of work went into just getting to those shows. We were a success in that we were able to get out there and play with some of the best bands Indianapolis has to offer. We got to see what the talent was out there, while really working on our music to ensure people would respond to it. We were the band no one had heard before, so getting any kind of positive response was a big deal.”
Moore, however, abruptly left the band midway through the competition, so when the band returned to the Birdy's stage for the semifinals they'd gelled around the songwriting presence of Logan Lake on lone lead vocals. And though they failed to advance to the finals, their sound was memorable, bringing past and present together in a way that never forgot the importance of a juicy hook.
“That's a big thing, people really want to put us in a corner and label us but it's not been easy,” says Lake. “They'll say they can hear the '70s influence but then they hear the '90s too. I think it's a good thing when people really can't say you sound exactly like this one thing. The sound of the band has always been the sound of the band. So you're always going to recognize Against the Clocks' music, but we wanted to come out and write music we could imagine hearing on the radio. ”
With a shot at a wider audience coming up at this year's Indiana State Fair, and a recent nomination for Best Local Pop Band in this year's ongoing NUVO Best of Indy competition, the band's focus has been on showcasing that sound in a way that fits their self-described “festival style.” They've added Jonathan January, a seasoned local musician, on bass guitar and occasional “non-Jethro Tull styled” flute solos. And they're at work on a slew of new songs which they hope to put on their next full-length album, giving the band's new lineup a chance to really break out from early confused expectations.
“We'd gotten a lot of feedback on our last EP that it was almost two styles being forced onto one CD,” says Brock Crooks, who plays rhythm guitar for the band. “The route we're going now is a more positive route, we have the right group of people to really make things happen.”
And while they admit they may occasionally lean on Logan Lake as the band's songwriting leader, as a whole their songwriting process on the new material has been a collaborative affair. “We have a new song where me and Brock wrote out some guitar parts, added to it, and then brought it to the table as a verse, where Logan took that verse and those chords and wrote a whole song from it,” says Lake. “I think this may be one of the strongest songs we've turned out yet, but without all of us involved we never would have gotten it to where it is.”
Though they're keeping tight-lipped about specifics, the band did make a trip this past month to Nashville to explore potential songwriting options. And they've branched out to playing bigger shows whenever possible, including the State Fair and a planned September 5th show at the Elbow Room in Chicago. When they played the 4th of July Rock the Park festival in New Castle more than 200 people showed to up to watch, leaving them all the more motivated to remain focused on what they believe the band can become.
“We do believe in Indiana still and in building upon the scene, but where the scene's at right now you definitely have to branch out,” Lake says. “We're looking to continue to play Indiana festivals while branching out to hit bigger stages. For Against the Clocks, the next step is to book a show on a main stage somewhere, maybe opening for a national band, and then build on that … we're definitely a 'festival band.' We're looking to go all the way.”
Jonathan Sanders is a recent transplant to the Indianapolis scene, but he's figured out how to make a quick impact -- find great local bands and fight to be the first to get them in print. An unabashed karaoke junkie, he is at home anywhere wannabe rock-stars regularly caterwaul.